Sport Rugby

Friday 20 April 2018

RFU will 'flog guts out' to find Euro deal

Ian Ritchie is concerned for the future of the Heineken cup
Ian Ritchie is concerned for the future of the Heineken cup

Chris Hewett

The Rugby Football Union is not prepared to go to war with its own top-flight clubs in an effort to save the threatened Heineken Cup.

However, they are ready to explore every other available option in the search for a peace deal that might protect the tournament from the worst excesses of its own stakeholders.

The price of failure will be heavy indeed. "It would open up a Pandora's Box for the game across the world," said Ian Ritchie, the Twickenham chief executive.

Ritchie has outlined his governing body's position in the light of last week's statement by the 14 biggest clubs in England confirming their decision to boycott all current European competitions from the end of this season.

The chief executive acknowledged that the rival broadcasting claims of Sky Sports and BT Sport were the principal obstacle in the hunt for a lasting agreement.

"I'm working on the assumption that some form of resolution must be possible," he said. "If it proves insoluble, so be it, but in that case, what will the broadcasters end up getting?

"I think there is a deal to be done, and I'll flog my guts out in pursuit of it. Let's kill this idea that we're in a position to instruct the clubs to do things. We're not, and neither do we want to be." (© Independent News Service)

POPE: CONNACHT CAN EXPECT A BACKLASH

BRENT POPE believes Connacht face an uphill battle to achieve their mission improbable this weekend, but the New Zealander urged the Westerners to believe they can beat Toulouse again.

Speaking during an exclusive independent.ie video, in association with Heineken Star Predictor, the New Zealander hailed Pat Lam's side for their extraordinary victory in France last weekend.

But, in discussion with Tony Ward and comedian Mario Rosenstock, he warned Connacht to expect a backlash.

"I think that Guy Noves will have the stars out -- although he had them last week -- and they will be told in no uncertain terms 'you're on a budget of €35m, unless you pull up your socks here and don't lose again you can give up'. So, it will have been a real kick in the tail."

www.independent.ie/heinekenvideo

Irish Independent

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